Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★★

I often think about the final two paragraphs written in a 1976 report of the lawsuits filed against the state, after it had been publicly acknowledge and confirmed that Hoover’s COINTELPRO was systematically targeting, infiltrating, and violently disrupting black liberation/communist/anti war movements and that the CPD, acting on direct orders from the FBI, covered up their deliberate assassination of Fred Hampton as he slept in his bed: 

Fred Hampton had been fond of proclaiming, “You can kill a revolutionary, but you cannot kill a revolution. You can jail a liberation fighter, but you cannot jail liberation.” Between 1968 and 1971, more than a score of Panthers were killed by police agencies, and more than 1,000 were jailed. That the party has survived at all is a minor miracle. While the death of Fred Hampton dealt a crippling blow to the Illinois chapter, the charter chapter in Oakland has never been stronger. The party currently runs fifteen, free “survival programs” in its Oakland stronghold, including free clothing, legal aid, ambulance, pest control, plumbing and maintenance, a breakfast for children programs, a food co-op, medical clinics and the Oakland Community School.

Although many talk about the FBI’s destruction of the Black Panther Party as if it were a fait accompli, perhaps it is too early to discard the favorite slogan of exiled Panther leader, Huey Newton: “The spirit of the people will defeat the technology of the Man.”

And I often — nay, always — think about this: Fred was fucking 21 years old. 


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